Arab League Advocates Lifting Sanctions against Libya
The Arab League on Friday asked the UN Security Council to immediately and definitively lift sanctions imposed on Libya to force it to cooperate during the Lockerbie trial.
"The Committee of Seven (Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco) calls upon the Security Council to lift the sanctions imposed on the Libyan Arab Jamahirya immediately and definitively," the countries' foreign ministers wrote in a letter to the president of the council.
The United Nations imposed the sanctions in 1992 to pressure Tripoli to extradite two Libyans suspected in the bombing of PanAm flight 103 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie in December 1988, in which 270 people were killed.
"The Arab League deeply regrets the fact that the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution lifting the sanctions despite Libya's full cooperation with the court" in delivering the two Libyan suspects to the Scottish court on April 5, 1999.
The two suspects, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Amine Khalifa Fhima, remain in custody while awaiting trial in a special courtroom set up in the Netherlands.
The 1992 sanctions call on all UN members to cut off air links and arms sales to the country and restrict the number of diplomats that Libya can maintain abroad.
In November 1993 they were broadened to ban the sale of petroleum equipment and freeze non-petroleum-related Libyan government assets abroad.
The sanctions were suspended when the suspects were remanded to police custody, but the United States has demanded they be fully ended once Libya has cooperated with the judicial authorities throughout the trial and paid compensation to the families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
"The deepening suspicions of the Libyans are justified and it is understandable that their patience is becoming exhausted," the ministers said, all the while expressing their "deep concern" at the situation – UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)